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Updates and Pointers

Some interesting stuff on the intertubes this week.

National Federation for the Blind’s 6 Million Dollar Payday.
Target and the NFB have settled out of court for 6 million bucks.. At issue was the position that Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act includes retailers who are also online.

The Flashturbationites and the AJAXians web designers have been given yet another pass to make the web unusable to folks who do not have a full set of capabilities.

MetaFilter has a great commentary which points out the positions that various folks hold.

This ‘settlement’ does nothing to settle whether or not people with visual, aural, or other disabilities, are equal under the law. It is a cheap out for Target, about 10 minutes sales profit.

Digital Preservation
Sustainability of Digital Formats
This is a very technical discussion about various digital formats for creating and preservation of digital media. This is an interesting document coming from the Library of Congress who used to be the Depository of Record for Copyrights, and keeper of the Public Domain, but has since bent over and grabbed its ankles for the ‘entertainment’ industry since 1976, when mandatory deposits were abolished.
They may be thinking ahead, but they will be out of a job real soon unless copyright is reset back to 14 years for everybody.

Safe Harbor ahead for YouTube

“In a development that could portend some good news for Google-owned YouTube, a federal judge in San Jose has ruled that Veoh, the video-sharing service, isn’t liable for copyright infringement for material that was uploaded to its site.”
Source: WSJ LawBlog

DUH!!

Finally Politics
Sarah Palin for VP? One bullet from the Presidency? Get Fucking Real!

Dumb Moments in Marketing

Fast food has a long and expensive history in marketing. They also provide some of the dumbest moments in marketing.
Here is one.
Truckside Marketing
Ya gotta wonder who the genius was who thought this was a good idea, and who the morons were that signed off on this.

Rummage

Here are some interesting things to show up on the internet lately.
VRM
Is VRM a ‘phenomenon’? Alan Mitchell looks at VRM from a different perspective. Still missing the point that for VRM to succeed requires us to make companies beg for information after a full disclosure. The default position is that they are stealing it with every click and visit.

WordPress
WordPress Tips + Things You Can Do After Installing WordPress Interesting things to do if you are running WordPress yourself.

Social Media
The Media & Social Media: Follow Up With Cincinnati Enquirer A story selling the Social Media/PR Rebranding/User Generated Content model to the Social Media thermos bottle. It is worth the read as there are a large quantity of numbers tied to this post. It should also be noted that as the Social Media Missionaries show up at your door, you should probably think about how much work this is.

Kindle.
the Amazon electronic book continues to elicit reviews. Shelley Powers has an Interesting look at her’s and pricing.
Grumbles in Kindletown

Health Care Statistics to make you sick

According to this release:

The proportion of working-age Americans who have medical bill problems or who are paying off medical debt climbed from 34 percent to 41 percent between 2005 and 2007, bringing the total to 72 million, according to recent survey findings from The Commonwealth Fund. In addition, 7 million adults age 65 and over also had problems paying medical bills, for a total of 79 million adults with medical bill problems or medical debt.

Brings new meaning to the concept Working to Death.
It gets worse.

Other key survey findings include:

* Among the medical bill problems reported in the survey: 28 percent are paying off medical bills over time, up from 21 percent in 2005, and 27 percent of adults under age 65 said they had problems paying or were unable to pay their bills in 2007, up from 23 percent in 2005.

* More than half (53%) of insured working-age adults who have deductibles that represent 5 percent or more of their income reported medical bill burdens and debt; one-third of adults with lower deductibles face these kinds of difficulties.

* While adults in families with incomes under $20,000 a year report the highest rates of lacking coverage during the year, more adults in moderate income families are going without insurance. In 2007, 41 percent of adults in families earning between $20,000 and $40,000 a year reported a time uninsured during the year, up from 28 percent in 2001.

* Most people who were uninsured at any point in the last year are in working families. Of the estimated 50 million American adults who were uninsured in the last year, 58% were in families where at least one person was working full-time.

* People who are uninsured or underinsured experience inefficient care; nearly half of adults (47%) under age 65 who had gaps in their health insurance or were underinsured reported they had experienced problems such as test results not being available on time, receiving duplicate medical tests, and delays in receiving results of abnormal test results; in contrast just 26 percent of adults who are adequately insured reported these inefficiencies.
Source: EurekAlert.org

The Commonwealth Fund Report announcement is here The report in PDF is Here

Privacy, VRM, and lawd help us the US Congress

Privacy or Not
The internet is not a friendly place. What you do in the privacy of your own home vaporizes the moment you go online. Imagine walking out of your house naked, having a flashing billboard over your head spewing out every private thought you have. You get tracked, sliced, diced, spun dry, and become a demographic, that anybody with a checkbook and an ad campaign can pick up for a song.

Every site, click, comment, posting and purchase gets sucked up into someone’s data bucket. Without notice, discussion, or acknowledgment. Websites value your privacy right up to the point there is a buck in selling this information. They are called ‘partners’ and ‘third party managers’. They like to say they serve you, like a kindly domestic bringing you a drink at the end of the day, when in reality, they are more like a group of home invaders, force feeding you with a fire hose.

Blocking Ads, rejecting cookies, using an anonymiser, are steps you need to take to try to take your privacy back. Understand that these are active steps you must take. The default is walking around naked with a billboard.

Behavioral Targeting
BT is the catch phrase used by marketeers that all of the above mentioned privacy stripping activities are lumped in an attempt to obscure its purpose. Not unlike tying a brick to your penis, as a Natural Male Enhancement Method. Both of which hold an almost fatal attraction for segments of the population. Never mind, people do weird shit.

From a marketing standpoint the internet is a target rich environment.
The invention and expansion of the internet is really the best thing that has happened to companies since the first advertisement rolled off a printing press. Global Reach, extremely low publication and distribution, open 24/7, and qualified sales leads, when done properly.

The number of companies that do it well is extremely small in relationship to the number of commercial sites out here. Companies realizing that their websites suck, turn to what they know, which is plastering ads on other sites, driven by the evangelists and fundamentalists of Marketing. They in turn do what they know, which is to place ads on sites and with companies who live by advertiser support. The first casualties are the newspapers and magazines, whose dead tree publications are being decimated by the online world.

VRM
VRM aka Vendor Relationship Management is the latest attempt by Doc Searls to bitchslap companies into realizing what Peer to Peer means. The problem that I have been wrestling with for months is that VRM has at its core, the idea that we have to be receptive to companies and their advertisers. Without this principle there is no management required. This is just as disingenuous as the Opt Out method, which is the new black in privacy, or so they would have you believe.

The US Congress is learning about Behavioral Targeting from the companies that are doing it. Letting the inmates run the asylum comes to mind.

No surprise as having a Presidential candidate who doesn’t use computers, a congress critter who describes the web as tubes, and others who don’t answer email, and think that the internet is something that kids use.

From this article Legislators Apparently Unaware of Adblock Plus, TrackMeNot, comes this Money Shot;

Google wrote in its letter to the Committee. “To ensure the continuation and proliferation of responsible behavioral targeting practices, we are supportive of efforts to establish strong self-regulatory principles for online advertising that involves the collection of user data for the purpose of creating behavioral and demographic profiles.”
Source: Google’s Letter to the Energy Committee[PDF]

Think about that.

Internet Marketing 101

From BL Ochman comes this;
Don’t whine about how expensive it is to hire humans to answer customer emails. If it weren’t for customers, you wouldn’t need to come to work.
Source: BL Ochman

Having spent 10 years building simple websites for small businesses like auto junkyards, I can tell you that the successful ones answer their emails as soon as possible. I have mentioned this before, like in the last century.

The PR flacks/marketing gurus and the Social Media Cheerleaders forget this. Most folks don’t want discussions, they want to swap money for stuff.

Congress Passes $60k Law School Loan Forgiveness Program

Congress passes $60K Law School Loan Forgiveness Program
Are they fucking kidding? LAWYERS? Like we need more lawyers.

H.R. 4137 amends the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to direct the attorney general to assume the obligation to repay student loans for borrowers who agree to remain employed, for at least three years, as state or local criminal prosecutors; or state, local, or federal public defenders in criminal cases.
Source: National Law Journal

Yeah that’s right, and we get hooked for the bill. If you believe that they will be even handed between prosecutors and defenders, I will shit in your hand now.

What about Teachers? Nurses? Child Protection Investigators? You know, folks that are semi useful.
Are they fucking kidding? LAWYERS? Like we need more lawyers.

Blog Death – Patry Copyright Blog

William Patry is tossing in the towel. The Patry Copyright Blog was a personal site of his. He probably knows more about Copyright than just about any person on the planet. His reasons are here.

This is a profound loss.

Making Solar 24/7

The folks at MIT are working on using solar energy round the clock.
‘Major discovery’ from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution